Improving student attendance is an essential, cost-effective but often overlooked strategy for ensuring our students are on-track to learn and succeed. Nationwide, as many as one out of 10 students is chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of school days, or nearly a month. Chronic absence is a leading, early warning indicator of academic trouble and later dropout.
The good news is that chronic absence is a problem we can solve. While addressing some attendance barriers—such as health, poor transportation, and unstable housing—can often require longer-term strategies, everyone can make a difference by helping students and families understand that going to school every day and avoiding absences whenever possible is critical to realizing their hopes and dreams. Too often, we don’t realize how quickly absences add up: Missing just two days every month can cause a child to fall behind.
Below are key messages that everyone can use to help spread the word about this important issue. What can you do to help get these messages out?
- Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually in the workplace. Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early as prekindergarten and throughout elementary school. By middle and high school, poor attendance is a leading indicator of dropout. Developing the habit of attendance prepares students for success on the job and in life
- Excused and unexcused absences easily add up to too much time lost in the classroom. » Students are at risk academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days. Once too many absences have occurred, they can affect learning, regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused. Sporadic, not just consecutive, absences matter. Before you know it – just one or two days a month can add up to nearly 10 percent of the school year. » Avoid unnecessary absences. Some absences are unavoidable. Occasionally, children get sick and need to stay home. What is important is getting children to school as often as possible.
Working Together to Show that Each School Day Matters!
Tasha L. Dean, Ed. D.
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